August 18, 2015

Coastal Grass at Great Meadows

Coastal barnyard grass (Echinochloa walteri), aka Walter's millet
In an August evening walk along the Dike Trail at Great Meadows NWR - Concord Unit, the backlight of the setting sun sets several clumps of coastal barnyard grass (Echinochloa walteri), also known as "Walter's millet," ablaze among the mid-August wildflowers.  The sight stops many in their tracks.

Thanks to one of this month's walk participants at Great Meadows, I was asked to reconsider my ID for this grass, which for several years I have assumed was foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum).  Re-noting its branched inflorescence and prominent bristles that stand out on the lower stem and continue prominently up through all of the inflorescences, I tracked down the correct ID.  Checking in with Ray Angelo's Vascular Flora of Concord, Massachusetts, he mentions that Richard Eaton (author of the Flora of Concord, 1974) said this grass was abundant in Concord in a single location - along the dike trail at Great Meadows.  It inhabits the upper edges of salt marshes and other low-lying wetland shorelines across the eastern U.S.

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